Managing Childhood Anxiety and Fears

Children of all ages fight worries, fears and anxieties as they grow. Their world appears new and unfamiliar making them feel uncomfortable. So, to survive, they nurture anxiety, a feeling they will display through:

  • Restlessness
  • Fearfulness
  • Evasions
  • Poor focusing
  • Crying 
  • Throwing tantrums

Is It Normal for Your Child to be Anxious?

Anxiety is a normal emotion that makes children cautious. Many Kenyan parents, however, take advantage of it to teach their children to stay away from bad behaviour and hazardous things. Some allow their children to touch a flaming candle while others lock theirs in dark rooms. While it is with good intent, such acts only heighten children’s fears and may elevate them into “anxiety disorders”. Anxiety disorder is extreme fearfulness and worries which affects a child’s daily living. It can be considered a mental disability. 

The good news is anxiety can be managed and treated. 

Major Factors that Trigger Childhood Anxiety and Fear

Considering that your baby is inexperienced and has inadequate reasoning skills, their fearful response is easily understandable.  Here are few considered factors that lead to anxiety in children:

  • General sensitivity and heightened emotions in the child’s temperament. 
  • Being an overprotective parent. 
  • Having at least one anxious parent. 
  • Parental separation. 

The Common Fears and Worries by Age

Kids at different stages of development experience varied childhood anxieties. These are such as;- 

  • At 0 to 1 year – are afraid of loud noises and separation from parents. Beyond 7 months, they display stranger-rejection. 
  • At 1 to 2 year – are used to a routine, therefore a change may create concern. They are afraid of:
  1. Being hurt
  2. Animals
  3. Large objects
  4. Being left alone during sleep time or dark places. 
  • At 3 to 6 years – Have heightened level of separation anxiety and are able to anticipate bad things happening to them. Dreams are more vivid and real. 
  • At 7 to 12 years – are now longing for companionship. The brain is developed and worries about their futures, afraid of accidents and injury. They are concerned about their physical look. 
  • At adolescence – personal relationships are created. Hyped superstitious fears, fearful of losing friends and can voice political fears, increasing their awareness to the world. 


Strategies to Ease Fears and Worries in Children

Children mature and get courageous with time to outgrow their fears. This maturity should be nurtured and encouraged by parents or caretakers. You can do this in the following ways: 

  • Give attention 
  • Avoid giving solutions 
  • Play fear games like ‘hide and seek’, storytelling etc.
  • Allow your child to express sadness about their worries. 
  • Mentor your child to be courageous and brave. 

And Finally

Fears are a sign that your child’s senses are expanding and the mind is being sharpened to cope with the world.  If, anxiety signs are extreme, visit a health care facility or call your physician for medical checkup. 



#Please note that development differs from one child to another. 

#Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Last reviewed January 2019

Sources: betterhealth, heysigmund, kidshealth, nation, handinhandparenting, raisingchildren

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